‘I can’t breathe’ says Pope Francis following hernia operation

Pope Francis, 86, has said he is short of breath following surgery on his abdomen.

Francis said he was still feeling the effects of anaesthesia two weeks after abdominal surgery.

The pope made the comments to explain why he was choosing not to deliver a prepared speech to visiting charity workers for Eastern rite churches.

Instead of Pope Francis making the speech, it was handed out to the visitors.

Vatican News quoted the pontiff as saying he was still feeling the effects of anaesthesia and that his breathing wasn’t very good.

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Pope Francis said: “I’m still under the effect of anaesthesia. My breathing isn’t good.”

The pontiff recently underwent three hours of surgery under general anaesthesia on June 7 to repair a hernia in his abdominal wall and remove some intestinal scar tissue.

He was discharged on June 16; his surgeon told the press that he was “better than before”.

This isn’t Francis’ first complaint about the side effects of anaesthesia after long operations.

He previously complained about the impact of the procedure after an operation in 2021 to remove 33 centimetres of his large intestine.

He has previously cited his reaction as a reason for refusing surgery to repair strained ligaments in his knee.

His surgeon for both the operation in 2021 and 2023, Dr Sergio Alfieri of Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, stressed there were no adverse reactions to anaesthesia on each occasion.

However, the surgeon added that “no one likes” being put under the knife and operated on.

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When he was younger, before he became Pope, Francis had part of one of his lungs removed following a respiratory infection.

He also had a three-day stay in the hospital during the spring after he was diagnosed with bronchitis.

Recently, Francis has been known to speak in a whisper and can sometimes seem out of breath, especially if he is physically strained.

His rehabilitation following his most recent surgery has reportedly involved respiratory exercises.

Dr Alfieri has allegedly urged Pope Francis to take it easy so that the scarring can heal and he can fully regain his strength.

The pontiff is due to travel to Portugal and Mongolia in August

Despite the warnings, Pope Francis has not followed the doctor’s orders, reportedly holding high-profile meetings just this week with the presidents of Cuba and Brazil.

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